Tag Archives: language

ReDress: Where Shall I Start?

Lenten stitch meditation no. 1, Feb. 14, 2018

Everything starts somewhere in time and place. And sometimes it’s hard to say just when and where.

So we get to decide: I’ll start the story here.

That’s what I’m doing with this post and what I’m calling my “ReDress project,” although it’s fuller title in my mind is “Redress-reDress.” It’s a multi-sided, multi-media’ed exploration of the process of redressing a wrong, an old wound, while also sewing myself new clothes. (Get it? Redress a wrong; re-dress a wound; reDress myself…)

What can I say to get this launched? I love making things (knitting, painting, writing, sewing), and I love playing with words, looking up words in dictionaries, finding intriguing connections and double-meanings and overlapping sounds, rhythms, rhymes.

This past winter I found myself drawn to some Instagram posts featuring fabric and sewing, some of it the machine sewing of garments and “improvisational quilts,” some hand-stitching of small pieces of fabric in what fiber artist Liz Kettle calls “Stitch Meditations.” I decided during the season of Lent, I would try doing one “stitch meditation” each day, more or less. I posted them on Instagram and fully intended to, but never quite did, post them here. Better late than never.

The process of putting together small bits of fabric and hand-sewing them with colored threads makes a good visual beginning of my ReDress project, even if it started before that in my thinking. So I’m starting with Lenten stitch meditation number one, sewn on February 14, 2018, which was both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday.

More to come.


What’s New? One or Two Haiku for You

Self-portrait sketch, ©Sukie Curtis, ink on paper


One or two haiku–
some days that’s all I can muster–
a moment compressed.


Man standing knee deep,
Fishing rod flashes sunlight–
Not one fish nibbles.


I often think I will try to write at least one haiku every day, but I’m not that good at those “one something a day” things, although I did once commit to a whole year of at least one small drawing a day, and it was a wonderful experience. I stuck with it for a full year.  And my drawing skills improved in the process! 

I was inspired in my one drawing a day by someone else’s daily blog of drawings and paintings–Elizabeth Perry’s woolgathering. She is still doing daily drawings, from what I can tell, but now on Instagram and Twitter. Elizabeth dates her drawings and includes a number, now well into the four thousands, to indicate how many consecutive daily drawings she has posted. That’s a lot of daily drawings in the midst of a very busy, creative life!

Most days a small drawing is part of my morning routine. I like the way drawing grounds me and quiets my mind. Even if I draw many of the same things over and over–my hand, my hand holding my mug of tea, an old ceramic mug on my desk full of pens and pencils and a wooden spoon.

I often think of haiku as being very like simple drawings–a way of closely observing a moment in time, a glimpsed view, a sensory experience. Perhaps I will pair an occasional drawing with an occasional haiku, and see what happens.


Meet Gould’s Pandora

Gould’s pandoras in my hand

Most of the shells that wash up on a nearby beach are species familiar to me from my childhood: mussels in shades of blue like Chinese porcelain, clams of various species (surf, razor, Quahogs, among others), slipper shells (a.k.a. boat shells), lots of periwinkles, and the very occasional whole moon snail.

This year I have paid closer attention to–and started to see more and more of–what at first I took to be the pearly interior fragments of some larger shells. When I noticed that all of these supposed fragments were uncannily similar in shape, size, and location of a hinge, it finally dawned on me that they were likely their own species, simply one unknown to me!

So I looked them up in a field guide to seashells.

One of several species of the family Pandoridae and of the genus Pandora, these are known as Gould’s Pandora, Pandora gouldiana. Each shell half (called a valve) is nearly as flat as and not much larger than a guitar pick.

I find them quite lovely in their simplicity, their lightness of being, their iridescence, and the music they make when jingled in hand or pocket. The shell’s pearly layer is revealed only after the tougher outer layers have worn away.

Of course their name, Pandora, set me musing a bit. Yes, there’s the woman from Greek mythology who was entrusted with a box containing every conceivable ill the could plague humanity. And she opened it. (As a young girl, I never considered the implicit misogyny of this–another “blame it all on the woman” story.)

But the name, Pandora. . . . My two years of studying Biblical Greek long ago suggest that pandora in Greek would mean simply “all gifts”–pan  (all) + dora (gifts)–the good and the beautiful and the painful and the destructive. All of these gifts, all together.

When I checked my old Greek lexicon to confirm my memory about dora, I found a beautifully musical word nearby: dorophoria, meaning “the bearing of gifts.” In a flash the marvelous treasures of language and sound brought tears to my eyes.